2017 Salvo Foti – I Vigneri, Vinudilice, Etna Rosato, Sicily, Italy.
The godfather of Sicily’s Mount Etna wines, Salvo Foti produces inspirational bottlings of Carricante and from the eastern slope of the volcano as well as renowned bottlings of Nerello Mascalese from the northern reaches of Etna. Salvo Foti is well known for his tremendous efforts to rediscover, champion and propagate the indigenous grapes of Mount Etna under the I Vigneri banner, a group of visionary growers committed to native grapes and holistic grown vines, in an effort to preserve the island’s ancient wine growing traditions. Over the years he has isolated some of the best grapevines of Carricante and Nerello Mascalese in order to continue to grow the volcano’s amazing viticultural legacy. For his Rosato, he uses a vineyard planted to mainly hundred year old Alicante (Grenache) vines, but of course there is mixed with some other red and white grape varietals, some unknown, with vines at 1300 meters above sea level surrounded by a holly oak forest, and from which this Rosé wine, called Vinudilice, is made. While not biodynamic in the biblical sense, Foti’s vines set on soils of broken or decomposed lava stone of varying depth mixed with sand, and farmed with no fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides of any kind.
Interestingly, Foti’s fermentations are done in open oak vats, with indigenous yeast and without the use of enzymes or temperature control, thankfully the nights by this time of year on the Volcano are surprisingly quite cold. There is very little sulfur ever used on the grapes or the must, if at all, with aging happening in mostly used wood or cement with racking and bottling, which is unfined and unfiltered, is done under lunar cycles. If not for the pinkish and salmon hue, I would swear this was a wonderful and textured white wine, it almost has the feel of a Cassis Blanc and a graceful complexity with a pure mineral sense as well as a lovely long finish. Layers of fleshy fruit caress the medium bodied, very dry, palate which includes peach, melon, orange citrus and just a hint of strawberry and sour cherry, along with dusty spices, saline, wet rock and touch of earthiness. Again, this is a wine of beauty and mouth feel with subtle floral and steely elements, it is incredibly stylish, without pretense and flexible, being able to go with many cuisine choices. This vintage is stunning and I only wish I had more, it is extremely rare, as are all of Salvo’s offerings, and don’t flinch at the price, it’s less than Domaine Tempier these days and just as thrilling!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive